Newham’s best young choristers to raise their voices for Jubilee and Olympics

Young people from across Newham have come together to form a new choir to perform at the Royal Festival Hall and in the Cultural Olympiad.

Last week, an East London youth choir of 70 young people aged from ten to 18 drawn from six local schools - Sarah Bonnell School, who are donating their premises for rehearsal space, Cumberland School, Kingsford Community School, Nelson Primary School, Gainsborough Primary School and Park Primary School.

The project, named Living Song, a local enterprise led by Jane Wheeler in partnership with Sarah Bonnell’s Head of Music James Lyndsay,

Jane said: “I told them to identify children who were obviously good singers but who wanted to take it further and didn’t have the opportunity to where they were, for whatever reason that might be.”

The rehearsals will have a community learning aspect where teachers will take turns conducting choral music, from Bach to the Beatles, and the young choristers will give them feedback.

“We spent a lot of time choosing the music for this project and, while it is challenging, it’s good teaching repertoire.

“It’s also celebratory music and peace-keeping to keep in with the ideals and the spirit of the occasion.”

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The culmination of the choir’s hard work will pay off on June 4 on the Southbank when they will take part in Jubilation as part of the Royal celebrations, singing with 500 people from around the UK and an “audience choir” seated in the stalls.

Creator of the Living Song project, Jane has lived in Stratford and taught in the borough for 28 years, teaching at Sarah Bonnell School in Deanery Road, and NewVIc in Plaistow before becoming a Music Advisor for the London Borough of Newham.

She thinks there should be more opportunities for schools from different parts of the borough to get to know each other, addiing: “I love this community. We’re starting to build local relationships to transform it for the better.

“Kingsford school are travelling well outside of their area for this, the children are getting to go into a school they haven’t been in before to rehearse and they will be getting together and discovering each other as well as the music.”